I like to hike up to a nice vantage point at my local park and glass across the cityscape at night.
I look at trees/wildflowers/insects in addition to birds. Insects is tough unless I'm using a fairly low power set.
My home is in a suburb, with neighbours close by. Not so easy to sit at the window staring with any neighbouring property in view. When the birding is thin, I can sit on the bedroom floor and look at the crumbling brickwork on a mill nearby, completely out of sight of any neighbours. I like the texture of the masonry and find it great for testing/comparing binoculars and particularly scopes and eyepieces (not that I have many to test these days).
There are always lots of pigeons on the mill, lounging on the roof and walls or hiding from the wind and rain with the jackdaws in the many alcoves and sills. One day, I saw this.... and took my first ever picture on my phone through the scope eyepiece. So, now when I look at the brickwork, I keep an eye out for the Peregrine. https://www.dropbox.com/s/8igfovyt3005qod/mill2.jpg?dl=0
Nice thread, Barry! An enjoyable read. I’m slightly laid-up with back problems myself right now and it’s good reading.
I have many good non-birding memories of binocular use, not so much from my windows though. I live in an old house with very wavy glass and binoculars are nearly useless for looking out. That kind of stinks but I like these old windows, too. I could reglaze them with better glass, but I’m lazy. Lol.
Anyway, here’s a couple non-bird highlights:
I like looking at cities from vantage points. I routinely visit New York City and San Francisco and have great memories of reviewing NYC with binoculars from points such as One World Observatory and Empire State, or SF from Coit Tower and Marin Headlands. Just so cool. From up on One World, looking way down at the Statue of Liberty, or way up to Midtown. I didn’t know this but there’s a reason why NYC has big buildings down by Wall Street, then nothing very tall until Midtown: it’s bedrock, or lack thereof. That’s something SF could learn from. They have a building, Millennium Tower, that’s gonna rival the leaning tower of Pisa in a few decades. I always look at it and say, “Can I see it leaning yet??” Maybe, maybe not. And one morning, quite by accident, I watched the world’s largest container ship, the Benjamin Franklin, make its maiden voyage under the Golden Gate. Very cool with binoculars.
Here’s another favorite: first day on the backpacking trail and we’re up around 7500 feet. Around sunset I look up at a nearby ragged peak, maybe 10-11k feet (I’d have to look it up) and I wonder how cool it would be to get up there to spend the night. And suddenly wow, with binoculars there’s a tiny, bright-red parka up there moving around, a guy settling in for the night. Oh, I was a little envious, even though our campsite was truly spectacular.
But hey, the birds are already singing, right? Spring is right around the corner! I’m afraid one of my favorites, “Mr. Pink,” is no longer with us. He was a leucistic Northern Cardinal, just georgeous in coral pink, and I watched him for maybe seven years. Tempus fugit. Carpe diem.
Lovely thread this. And best wishes to all contributors who are dealing with health issues. As regards looking at non-bird stuff, I agree clouds are a must. Especially in these latitudes (53ºN) with low winter sun over the Atlantic in the evening. And stuff in the sky. Once (years ago) I saw (from the West of Ireland!) a shuttle take-off. Well, a shuttle a few minutes after take-off. Meteors, various constellations. Ships, yachts, prawn-fishing boats and trawlers. Patterns on the surface of the sea. Breakers miles off-shore. On land, in the countryside, archaeology, signs of earlier human habitation. Sometimes what looks like a blank barren hillside, will, on closer inspection with binos, reveal ancient potato-rills, the outlines of a bothy, a few stones that once formed the base of a shebeen where some family eked out a living. I've even found with binos the traces of old 'fulacht fias', which are very ancient cooking sites that involved a pit, a surrounding earthen bank, and cooking or brewing by means of roasted stones thrown into the water-filled pit. I think the self-taught skill of observing birds that most of us acquired as kids serves to make us a little bit more observant and reflective when we look at 'other stuff'. I've never found a good fossil though.
Nice interesting replies, guys! Yes, Patudo, we do have hawks here, and I am lucky to spot some from time to time from my rear window view, or elsewhere when I am out. They are one of my favorites to see. There had been a little Merlin that would hang around often, and some other larger ones from time to time. But often these rare visitors were hard to ID from a bright Southwestern window. Yes, I've seen Cooper's around, and Redtails, and Broadwing, and even a Bald Eagle once (not from my apartment, but close by)!